Bat found at Safari Park tests positive for rabies

SAN DIEGO – A bat found at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park over the weekend tested positive for rabies, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Monday.

Picture of bat provided by San Diego County News Center

There have been no reports of any people touching the bat, found Saturday around 3 p.m. near the Oasis Deli in the Nairobi Village section of the park. However, if someone did directly handle the flying mammal, county health officials want to hear from them.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, said rabies is usually fatal in humans without prompt medical intervention. Rabies transmission can occur from a bite or if saliva comes in contact with a cut or abrasion, or with mucous membranes like the eyes, nose or mouth.

“People should always stay away from bats and other wild animals to prevent possible exposure to rabies,” Wooten said. “If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it. If you think you may have had contact with a bat, call the county as soon as possible at (619) 692-8499.”

Five rabid bats have been found in San Diego County so far this year. Last year, two were discovered in the same location at the Safari Park.

The HHSA said if direct contact with a bat does occur, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and get medical advice immediately. More information, including a brochure on rabies, can be found on the HHSA Rabies web page at http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/rabies.html.